Save the Children says efforts on promotion of children’s welfare will be meaningless if children themselves are not given space and opportunity to participate in decision making on issues that affect them.
Save the Children International Country Director Kim Koch made the remarks during official opening of a two-day Children’s Parliament for Mzimba South held at Mnjiri Community Day Secondary School.
Koch said despite children constituting a bigger part of the population, they are often times left out in forums that discuss promotion of their rights.
“The welfare of children in Malawi can only be promoted if deliberate efforts and affirmations are made to respect their rights.
“This can only be realised if children themselves, as rights holders, are given a voice to express themselves on how they wish to enjoy their rights,” Koch said.
Koch said her organisation attaches value to Children’s Parliament because it is a crucial forum that offers them opportunity to voice out ideas, thoughts and feelings which affect their lives.
“I am very hopeful that this parliamentary forum will charge the children to voice out issues that impinge on their rights and wellbeing and brainstorm their possible solutions,” she said.
Koch appealed to M’mbelwa District Council authorities to ensure haste implementation of issues and resolutions by the parliament.
She said the organisation will implement projects that give children a voice to attract attention of service providers.
M’mbelwa District Council chairperson Dan Nkosi said the council appreciates the many challenges children face in the district such as forced marriage which are attributed to social and cultural set ups.
Nkosi, however, assured the Speaker of Parliament Rachael Nguluwe and all members of parliament that the council will respect the passed resolutions and pledged to implement programmes that would alleviate challenges raised in the august House.
“As M’mbelwa District Council, we are touched with the issues raised in the House, especially on how potential they are in violating the rights of the children.
“They will be given serious attention when the council is implementing its development plans,” he said.
During deliberations, members outlined issues which impinge on their rights like forced child marriages, sexual harassment, unplanned pregnancies, child neglect, unequal education opportunities and discrimination of children with albinism, among others.
The Children’s Parliament platforms are supported by Norwegian Government. In Mzimba South, CCAP Synod of Livingstonia supported the event under the theme: A platform for Amplifying Children’s Voices.
So far, with funding from Norard, Save the Children has already conducted similar Children’s Parliament sessions in Neno and Mwanza districts.
By Ed-Grant Ndoza – Mana